I Write Like….
In surfing around the Internet I chanced across the latest viral craze site: I Write Like…. It’s a site where you supply a sample of your writing, and the site reveals which famous author you write like. It’s a fun idea and I was kind of wondering if I’d get tagged as writing as myself. (It might seem a bit arrogant to believe I’d be considered a famous writer, but I have hit the Bestseller list numerous times, have forty books out, bunches of short stories and articles, and my very own Wikipedia page, so a couple more folks than just my mom know of me.)
The first sample I tried was a chunk of At the Queen’s Command The result:
That one makes a certain amount of sense. The dialogue is a bit older, so I can see where it could get broken down as Tolkienesque. It is an epic fantasy, after all, but not medieval, and I did give the website 20,000 words to chew on. (Got to love Cut and Paste.)
Still, I’ve always thought that I had multiple styles—I shift gears depending on what the job demands. So next I tried one of the Trick Molloy stories, Little Girl Lost. I figured it would be a match for Raymond Chandler or Dash Hammett or Mickey Spillane. The result:
I guess I really can’t complain too much about being compared to Dan Brown. I sincerely hope all of his fans find out about the comparison. If they want to come and snag some of my stories while waiting for his next book, well, um, gosh, I can afford to replace the server such orders would burn out.
But this story got me thinking in the vein of detective stories, so I pulled up a copy of The Silver Knife. That story is very strongly Arthur Conan Doyle, right down to being tied into the Holmes Mythos. This one had to be a slam-dunk, right?
Well, I got Mythos, just not the Mythos I was thinking about:
Lovecraft? Well, I guess so. Fog, blood, demons, silver, polite folks speaking politely, all written in the first person. I guess I can see that. So I decided to give the site a story that I thought was rather Lovecraftian. Yes, I know, it didn’t work with Doyle, but what the heck. I fed it Covenant.
I got back:
James Joyce? Holy cats. I’ve tried to read Ulysses twice. I got three pages once, one and a half the next time. Covenant is hardly ambitious or obscure; it’s a pretty straight-up story. It doesn’t even approach literature. I wrote it to be read aloud, so that ranking completely baffled me.
I decided to take one last shot. I pulled out The Adventure of the Ghost Watch. I wrote it as a YA story, simple and clean, and of a grade level that meant that fifth and sixth graders (11-12 year olds) could read it easily. That’s not to say I dumbed it down at all. I just made the sentences a bit shorter, and simplified the vocabulary—using the kinds of words my protagonists would. (For example, they’d not say protagonist, they’d say hero.) I figured I’d get Franklin Dixon (Hardy Boys), or maybe R. L. Stine.
Instead I got:
It strikes me as odd that my work is likened to an author who is younger than me. I suppose that’s kind of a good thing, since it would indicate that I can produce a style which is relevant for up and coming audiences. Still, it is rather curious.
I have no idea how many authors they have to compare against, or if they are adding more every day. It’s definitely good to know that I can appear to be many different writers. I suspect that such flexibility will be a good survival trait for the coming times.
Though it does leave open one question, however: Is there a me I actually write like?